San Miguel de Allende
Guanajuato, México



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El Charco Del Ingenio Botanical Garden Newsletter

April, 2006 - Volume 1, No. 2

Our Mission: To protect and preserve our natural heritage while developing a Botanical Garden dedicated to Mexican flora and providing an oasis of peace and tranquility.

Hope that you were all able to access the first newsletter in March that we made available on the web site. A message was sent to all members for whom we had e-mail addresses, advising them how to connect to the newsletter. This month the newsletter will be available in Spanish to accommodate our Mexican members and supporters.

Please tell your friends and prospective members/supporters how to access the newsletter and help broaden the base of support for the Botanical Garden.


The Echinocereus genus is in full bloom in the El Charco conservatory. This cactus is one of the most diverse and popular of the small cacti. It is slow growing but has spectacular flowers in yellow, red, pink, purple, orange and red. Come visit the garden to see a wonderful display of this cactus and Opuntia (Prickly Pear) with its beautiful yellow flowers, throughout the garden.

National Botanical Gardens Day – March 3, 2006

This day was declared for the first time in Mexico, and was celebrated by more than 50 botanical gardens throughout the country including El Charco. Each garden celebrated this special day in a variety of ways. Some sponsored lectures, tours, education programs or other events. The purpose of National Botanical Garden Day is to promote conservation, education and research in Mexican communities. In addition it was held to raise public awareness about the botanic diversity and the threats to its survival in Mexico today.

The first Friday in March was chosen because it corresponds to an important time in Precolumbian Mexico when the people celebrated plants and the beginning of the growing cycle.

In El Charco, we dedicated National Botanical Gardens Day to school children through special workshops within the current Environmental Education Program we conduct in conjunction with Save the Children (FAI). Early in the morning, groups of children invaded the garden and took part in various activities such as bird watching, plant identification and propagation at the nursery. At the end of their visit the children planted a young garambullo (candlestick cactus) – a low watering plant – as part of conserving their future heritage.


El Charco hosted the H2O San Miguel roundtable on water issues at the Four Winds Plaza at 12.30 pm. Twenty people from various NGO’s and municipalities attended. They discussed the issue of water here in San Miguel and the consequences for the future if proper planning and protection is not instituted.

At 4.30 pm the Pame-Otomi people led a ceremony with drums and pipe music to the Four Winds Plaza where they made offerings to celebrate and bless water. They later walked and played their way into the canyon as a prelude to the concert.

The well-known baroque musical ensemble, Capella Guanajuatensis, performed a concert in the natural amphitheatre in the canyon. Several hundred people attended the event and enjoyed the wonderful music and atmosphere. Mexicans and foreigners, adults and children soaked up the sun and the music together. People were so enthralled and quiet that the sound of the instruments was all you could hear. As the sun set, a bonfire was lit to signal the change from winter to spring and the beginning of the long days. Everyone who attended remarked how special it was to be outdoors in the canyon setting listening to such virtuosity.


A small luncheon was held March 15 to honour and thank some of El Charco’s major donors. Bob Haas, Naomi Zerriffi, Jaci Winters and Mario Mendoza, Vice-Director of El Charco, were on hand to discuss future projects at the garden and Parque Landeta. A display of posters and maps plus a folder of materials were used to explain the need for major funding in 2006 and beyond. Donors were presented with a Case for Support for 2006 in order to complete and initiate projects such as the tree barrier, restoration and enhancement of wetlands, completion of the headquarters, new visitor amenities and trail reconstruction.

El Charco is working hard to improve all revenue sources and maintain expenses. This past year revenues from memberships, entrance fees, product sales, workshops and events covered close to 60% of expenses.

We will be introducing our new Donor Appreciation Program in the very near future to encourage and thank donors.

NEW BIRDS BOOKS FOR SALE – all funds to the garden

Two new birds books are now available at the store in the Botanical Garden. They are both in Spanish and they have wonderful full colour pictures of birds.

One is titled “Las Aves de la Sierra de Santa Rosa Guanajuato” and gives you an overview of the environment and habitat in the Sierra Santa Rosa, a major migratory and bird habitat just north west of San Miguel. It lists and provides pictures of the birds found in Santa Rosa but it is also a manual on how to observe and identify birds, bird nests, and bird migration etc. For those of us learning Spanish it helps to practice reading in Spanish. It is a terrific book for children wanting to learn about birds. Cost $200 pesos.

The second book is “ Guia de campo a las aves de Norteamerica” by Kenn Kaufman. It has more than 2000 colored digital images of birds. It follows the regular format of most bird books with divisions by species. It has distribution maps showing where the birds winter and summer or live permanently. The cover is plasticized so it will withstand moisture and outdoor use. Cost $500 pesos.

New things in the Jardin Botanico

If you have not visited the garden recently you may not know about the changes and improvements we have made in the last six months.

Many of the plants now have descriptive markers so that you can identify them and become familiar with the various flora in the garden. New agave gardens have been added around the conservatory with new pathways so you can view all the plants. We also have new signage explaining the garden and its various elements in both Spanish and English.

The Garden of Agaves , a permanent exhibition of these succulent plants, located by the Conservatory of Mexican Plants, was inaugurated last March by Dr. Roberto Contreras, Director of Environmental Agency of Guanajuato, and can be admired now by visitors and members.

The rescued plants zone, located at the western slope of the garden, has been recently renewed, so now you can see communities of big shape cacti and other plants from the arid and semiarid zones of Mexico.

In addition we have a range of new products including t-shirts, mugs, hats and postcards for souvenirs or gifts.

New visitor washrooms were built near the entrance. They accommodate more people and have delightful copper basins outside for washing hands.

And finally we developed a full colour brochure to attract new members and donations.

Why not buy a membership for a friend or relative? Or make a donation to honour a special person or occasion. It’s the gift that keeps on giving all year round.

Some new initiatives underway in 2006 include: building a headquarters with library and meeting room, planting a tree barrier for visual screening of urban development, restoration of the wetlands, improved web site and other visitor services .

ADOPT A TREE PROGRAM - Is a new initiative to raise funds to plant a barrier of large trees between the garden and the housing development in order to maintain the natural aesthetics of the garden. For $500 US you can adopt a tree to be planted as part of the visual barrier and a small plaque will be installed in your name. Call or e-mail us about this opportunity. It can be given as a gift for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary or in memory of someone close to you.

VOLUNTEERING – You can make a difference

We would like to thank the volunteers who helped at the Spring Equinox concert on March 20 th at El Charco and those who sold tickets in the Jardin the Friday and Saturday before the event. Your help is invaluable.

We will be having more events at the Botanical Garden throughout the year. DO YOU have a few hours and some expertise to help plan events or to assist on the day of the event, please contact Naomi at nzerriffi@yahoo.com or 152 1829.


Extra volunteers will be required to work in the garden during the rainy season June- Sept. When it rains the weeds grow rapidly and we need additional volunteers to weed and maintain the garden on a regular schedule throughout this period. If you can help, please call or e-mail Naomi.

April 29 th. Earth Day Event – Please come out and help with the cleanup in the garden and Parque Landeta working alongside Mexican school children and people from the local communities near the Botanical Garden.


Please mark your calendars


Earth Day – is an international day set aside to raise awareness of the need to protect our environment and its natural resources. It is celebrated all around the world. Many groups conduct cleanups of rivers, or parks, plant trees, have art or poster contests, hold workshops etc. to draw attention to environmental issues.

El Charco – is hosting the first ever Earth Day Event in San Miguel

A major cleanup project has been scheduled in El Charco and Parque Landeta beginning 8.00 a.m. on April 29 th. This event will involve 500 school children from SMA schools, people from the communities surrounding the park and garden, residents of Los Balcones, the Department of Ecology and workers from the Municipality of SMA.

Cristina Gonzalez, Director of Parque Landeta, will coordinate the event with help from El Charco staff and volunteers. Cristina will visit committees in each community in the vicinity of the park to explain how important it is to preserve the natural resources of the area. School children will receive environmental education through workshops in their schools prior to their participation in the event.

The perimeter of the garden near Los Balcones will also be part of the cleanup and we are looking to our members living there to get their neighbours involved in the cleanup.

At the end of the day, a Play on an environmental issue will be presented in LEONA VICARIO PUBLIC SCHOOL – 3.00 pm. Everybody is welcome to attend.





For several months El Charco has been conducting guided tours of the garden that includes the conservatory, wetland and canyon. These tours are 2 hours long and begin at 9 am every Tuesday. Your guide is Mario Mendoza, the knowledgeable Vice-Director of the garden. The tour is conducted in English but Mario can also explain in Spanish. The cost is 80 pesos for non-members and 50 pesos for members. It is a very informative and interesting tour and we encourage members and their visitors to take advantage of it and learn more about the garden and its programs. Plus you are able to visit the nursery which is not open to the public. Please reserve a space by calling MARIO at 0444151010338 or e-mail charco@unisono.net.mx. We suggest that if you do not drive that you take a taxi at a cost of 30-40 pesos as it is an uphill walk

Friday 21 & Saturday 22 of April, 8 pm – Temazcal

Temazcal is an Indian ritual sweat lodge that benefits circulation, relaxes muscles, stimulates respiration and helps with weight loss. It is open to males and females. Bring bathing suits and towels. Cost 200 pesos. Please reserve as space is limited by calling 154 4715 or 154 8838 or Cell o14431033019.

Please let us know if you like the newsletter, are there other things you would like us to cover? E-mail any comments or questions to the Editor, Jaci Winters at charco@unisono.net.mx